Again, as reported in Fierce Biotech this morning, a number of Indian and Chinese companies have invested heavily in new facilities aimed at making biosimilars. And, according to the article, are aiming to introduce these new drugs to the emerging world for as little as 1/3 the price. This challenges conventional dogma that biosimilars due to their more complex nature will be unlikely to see much more than 20% or so price discounting when introduced.
Dr. Yusuf Hamied however is quoted as saying the 33% of current price (i.e. 66% discount) point is possible. He doesn't stop there. "Once we have recovered our costs, our prices will fall further," he told the NY Times, "A lot further."
Hamied wasn't talking about only the current crop of cytokine type biosimilars either. He was referencing blockbuster mAbs for cancers or rheumatoid diseases -- like Herceptin , Avastin, Rituxan and Enbrel.
This will be an interesting battle looming as many Western companies have also begun to set up shop in these countries under the assumption that they can introduce these drugs to new markets and earn some bucks to make up for falling revenues due to generics in the traditional markets. If they catch a lot of price competition in these new arenas, that may render the whole strategy moot. And as the Fierce piece concludes -- if the beach head is established in the emerging world -- what will be the FDA justification for keeping these drugs out of the US at dramatically lower prices? Especially given the likely pressures we will see on health care budgets.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Sep 19th 2011.